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Distilling Frankincense essential oil

Continuing to work on a Frankincense anti aging/wrinkle crème and a Frankincense rejuvenating mask from the (post distillation) gum and resin residue of different types of Frankincense. Here I am distilling the essential oils from Frankincense, Boswellia species.

Successful formulation of a Frankincense Anti-Aging creme, utilizing the healing properties of the Frankincense gum and resin.
Successful formulation of a Frankincense Anti-Aging creme, utilizing the healing properties of the Frankincense gum and resin. Much more than just an essential oil.

By “post distillation” I mean that after distilling off the essential oils, what I am left with are the water-soluble gum and alcohol-soluble resin.
Since essential oils can irritate the skin, especially of the face, post distillation allows me to add a controlled amount of essential oils of my choice, isolate the water-soluble gums from the alcohol-soluble resins and remove all extraneous materials from them.

The method for distillation is steam/hydro distillation using a simple home-made pot still.

For a closer look at distilling Frankincense please see my post “A distillation of Frankincense Frereana”.

  For instructions on how to make a pot still for home production of essential oils and alcohol, see- “How to build a kitchen still for essential oils and alcohol”.

Home made pot still charged with fresh Frankincense, Boswellia Papyrifera from Ethiopia.
Home made pot still charged with fresh Frankincense from Ethiopia.

  The oleo-gum-resin for this distillation is Frankincense Papyrifera from Ethiopia. Because this is an experiment I only used 2 kg. of resin. Much less than this still can process.
The ratio of essential oils in each type of Frankincense varies greatly. One can collect  anywhere from 0.05% to 10% essential oil from Frankincense and other oleoresins.

The sieve keeps the resin from sitting on the bottom of the pot where it could burn. If the resin did get burned, even slightly, the fragrance of all the components would be affected, making resin, gum, oil and residue in the still, unusable for any purpose whatsoever and no way to reclaim them or separate the burnt odor from them. In fact, on top of the loss of the material, the whole still, including over 8 feet of air-cooled copper condenser would have to be scrubbed and practically sterilized to make sure there was not the slightest remnant of burnt residue or odor in the whole distillation train. I shudder at the thought!!! I had already done this twice prior to distilling the Frankincense just the day before. First removing traces of the last essential I had distilled, then had to do it all over again because I could smell hints of cleaning products in the condenser when I turned up the heat and started the distillation process.

       The lesson here, I believe, is that there are benefits to using standard glass water cooled condensers. I love the fact that this one utilizes air and consumes no resources to function. But it has its drawbacks.

This is a photo of the resin after distilling. Note the change in colour and texture. A pool of gum has settled at the bottom of the sieve, trying to drip into the pot through resin clogged sieve holes. Also note the milky white colour of the water after it has dissolved some of the the water soluble gums.

Home made pot Still. Frankincense resin suspended in sieve to avoid burning.
Home made pot Still. Frankincense resin suspended in sieve to avoid burning.
Frankincense water soluble gum mixed with distillation water in the still
Frankincense water soluble gum mixed with distillation water in the still has coloured the water a milky white.

Now that the essential oil is distilled from the oleo-gum-resin, most of the resin is in the basket. Except for some that dripped through the sieve and formed the tastiest looking layer of caramel coloured resin on the bottom of the pot.The water in the pot is white from dissolved gum. What remains is to separate the rest of the gum from the resin, (using water as the solvent), then remove all extraneous materials, pieces of bark, stone, sand etc., and purify the components.

Frankincense, Boswellia Papyrifera resin from bottom of still
Frankincense, Boswellia resin from bottom of still. Looks good enough to eat!!

 

When gum and resin are separated and purified they will be recombined in an emulsion with the addition of  emollient and skin nourishing oils, antioxidants, and a small amount of broad spectrum preservative.

Even though the prototypes and first formulas seem to have kept well for months without obvious spoilage or mold.  And even though i have a deep respect for the preserving qualities of tree oleo resins. I can’t take the chance of bacteria or other organisms growing after making an oil/water emulsion.

Frankincense, Boswellia Rivae, post distillation of essential oils. Only gum and resins remain to be separated and cleaned. Then recombined and reformulated for skin care and healing products.
A different type of Frankincense, post distillation of essential oils. Only gum and resins remain to be separated and cleaned. Then recombined and reformulated for skin care and healing products.
Home made pot Still. Used to distill essential oils, wines and much more. Note it is made of everything including parts of the kitchen sink.
Home made pot Still. Used to distill essential oils, wines and much more. Note it is made of everything including parts of the kitchen sink, with a salvaged copper/Aluminum heat exchange as an air cooled condenser..
Distilled Frankincense essential oil. Boswellia Rivea. 2013, Home made still.
Distilled Frankincense essential oil. Boswellia Rivea. 2013.
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Bitter Myrrh, Libra Moon, a Tincture

FULL MOON IN LIBRA

Ruled astrologically by the Moon, as some other bitter plants, it is time to tincture Myrrh. Today’s full moon in Libra, is closest to the spring equinox and appropriately, represents equilibrium and balance. The symbol for Libra are the scales. Its keyword is Balance. Balance between male and female energies. Winter and Summer. inner and outer, self and other.  As the sun and the seasons progress with Aries passion towards another Solstice, new beginnings, renewed direction, goals and ambitions are in the air, with a timely reminder to temper our actions and reactions, with balance. Sometimes easy to forget when swept up in Spring projects and passions.

Anatomical Man in the Duke Berry's Très Riches...
Anatomical Man in the Duke Berry’s Très Riches Heures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the way the full moons are always poised against, and illuminated by their opposite Sun sign. A perfect balance of friction and attraction. A choreographed dance of opposites made in heaven.    Aries Sun and its opposite, Libra Moon. The Moon’s feminine and watery reflective ebb and flow, contrasting the direct intensity of the Sun, especially when in  fiery Aries, makes them a  dynamic match of opposites.

.”The spark is Netzach, the friction of life.   In a motor, this generates the engine.   Netzach is Nature, the Tree of Life’s power base.   The friction of lightning and rain in Earth’s aeons, generated life.  The friction of male and female re-kindles the soul, a lamp in the womb for the soul.” http://janeaquariel.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/solomon/

Now is the time. It has built up for weeks. Thinking, pondering, planning, waiting, distilling water, preparing. Waiting… Writing …..  In the fridge it waited as per my earlier post of how to grind resins. It is appropriate that it come out of the cold of the fridge (Frig, Frigga) /winter to spin around, be ground to nondescript powder. Then, in the bright of the full Libra Moon and the waxing warm Sun, dissolves into the waters of life, (Aqua Vitae), like the salt of the sea, becoming one with the liquid, and turned into a tincture. Losing itself into the menstruum. Transformation. This is the time, for the Alchemical “Solve’ “, the first step in the process.

Beautifully formed Myrrh resin chunk
Beautifully formed Myrrh resin chunk

Myrrh,( Mor, Hebrew), Mar,(Hebrew, bitter), , Mar Yam, (Mariam, Miriam, Mary, Maria),                               Mar Yam-(,Hebrew Bitter of the sea), or froth of the sea, salt of the sea, perhaps also known as Ashtoreth, Astarte, Ostara. Shechinah. The Holy Consort and feminine counterpart to YHWH. Feminine principles of the Moon and element of water.

English: Astarte with horned (moon crescent) crown
English: Astarte with horned (moon crescent) crown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seems today is my , Ostara ,Easter and Passover. At 05:27 AM this morning, I covered the finely ground, powdered brown bitterness of Myrrh with the menstruum.  Pondering while nibbling on the Myrrh as I work, it is SO bitter! Grinding and thinking about the Passover Seder. It always felt like a bit of a sham with no one around that could give an answer that “rang” with Truth of deeper meanings for the traditional symbols. Mostly receiving information that no one has actually understood, or personally stood under in decades.  The representative “bitter” element or “Maror”, on the Seder platter now days is Horseradish, and not bitter in any way. Pungent? Yes. Bitter? No. In fact the “Maror” (the “bitter herb), may well have been and more likely was,” Mar”(, Hebrew-Bitter), and “Mor” ,(Hebrew-Myrrh), so (MARMOR?), Maror? My feeling is that Myrrh is likely the original basis of the original Passover Maror.

I can think of nothing that represents palatable bitterness as perfectly as Myrrh, which was readily available for thousands of years in ancient Israel.  Also Interesting is the inclusion in the Seder platter of salt water as “the tears we shed as slaves”, (The above mentioned froth of the sea/Moon reference). The lambs shank bone, a symbol of a tender young Aries Ram Sun?  The “Karpas” or greens, a symbol of spring growth. The egg on the platter at the Seder, fertility and Spring, but also representative of the duality and union of Yin and Yang, Equinox/Balance, Yolk as Sun, White as moon, (“Ha Levanah”, or the “White one”, is the Hebrew word for “The Moon”). Moon Feminine and Yin embracing and receiving  the Sun and Yang principal, the yolk.

Deutsch: Yin Yang
Deutsch: Yin Yang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a time for new beginnings, rebirth, regardless of one’s faith. A time when we might have more impetus to try, and succeed. To emancipate ourselves from forms of slavery we laboured under till now. Whether self-created and self-defeating patterns and habits, or unhealthy dynamics we have perpetuated with others. Patterns we have accepted and tolerated to our detriment for too long for all the wrong reasons. Libra seems to imply the dynamics between ourselves and others. Relationships.  Our Easter, Ostara, Passover ,Equinox passage is an opportunity  for both reflection and action. Self-examination, new choices, new beginnings. A time we might see our light reflected back to us, and a time for us, like the Sun, to wax bright.  With any luck we can hope to ride this wave of seasonal growth, and work with the natural cycles around and within us to carry ourselves closer to our goals..

And all the while, try to remember, balance.

Moses, Exodus, Liberation of the bondservants,...
Moses, Exodus, Liberation of the bondservants, the Jews in Egypt go free, Holy Bible Etching, 1885 (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

The Myrrh Tincture:   Created at 05:27 EST. During the Pisces Lunation cycle, Full Moon in Libra, Sun in Aries. Ascendant in Taurus?   A solvent mix of 55% distilled water to 45% pure alcohol, (mirroring the assumed ratio of gum to oleo-resin in the Myrrh), was poured  and covered the powdered Myrrh. It basked in the predawn moonlight symbolically, and was put away to gestate and circulate. Left in the care of natures rhythms till it is time for me to step in and give Nature a little help. Take the tincture to the next level. Likely on the path to becoming a Spagyric tincture.


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Waxing Warmly over Mustaches

The mustache, the manly mustache. That flourish that only a man can embellish. That embellishment that only a man can flourish. Suave or swashbuckling. Terse or trim. debonair, devilish, dictatorial or delightful. There really are too many types,the list is infinite. Each of us is given a completely different set of variables. Each of us can and likely should create our own unique style. Every face,every feature, every skin type and every genetic background creates different limitations and different possibilities. Each of us with our unique vision and creativity. A place for true self-expression. Color, texture and thickness of hair, Curly or straight, the size of the area between nose and lip, width and height of face, which areas are fur-bearing, which are spotty or naked. These are only some of the unique variables given man.

Even the lightest dab of down floating under an inexperienced nose, if only cut, trimmed and groomed minimally displays creative self-expression. It says to the world unequivocally, I am a mustache, bearing a man unique in who i am, we like who we areand celebrate our masculine nature.

Besides the obvious attentions of shaving cutting snipping brushing or combing a mustache, There is the time-honored tradition of waxing one’s mustache.
Having just finished my latest batch of said Mustache Wax, I do wax warmly on the subject and would be very happy to share insights and experience.

There are a few commercial mustache waxes available on the market. Not many and they don’t suit all types of mustache. One alternative is to make ones own mustache wax tailored to our own needs. Another is to have someone custom make a mustache wax for us. If you know someone who can do this for you are very lucky.
If, like me, you would like to make your own it is not too hard to make at home.

The basic ingredients in making a good mustache wax are a good base wax like beeswax, Sap,(fir Pine or spruce sap) and odoriferous oils,especially essential oils
Beeswax I find works best for me. It is natural, barely processed, smells great and it has good body and texture. Paraffin wax always smells like petroleum but can be worked with.
The wax will give body to your mustache wax.
Saps will help train your mustache to hold to a new form and shape. Almost like a “perm” effect. Saps also add a certain stickiness that helps keep everything together and of course a lovely, lovely fragrance.
While we now have stickiness and body I find that adding a little cocoa butter or Shea butter gives smoothness to the mix. Lubrication. This means it goes on much smoother and you aren’t as apt to yank out hairs every time you apply wax. No sense torturing oneself unnecessarily. Cocoa butter also smells heavenly and adds a balsamic note to the overall fragrance.
The last touch is fragrance. Pure essential oils are the best.
Some classic masculine essential oils are Sandalwood, Vetiver, Spikenard, patchouli, Cyprus, various Cedars and Frankincense.
Some spicy masculine notes are, Cardamom, Ginger, Black Pepper, Mace and Nutmeg
Given the base scents of beeswax, coniferous Saps and Cocoa Butter one has a good base for building a unique personal masculine fragrance. It is an accord that is woody and warm and lends itself to many variations and expressions of masculinity, soft or edgy, sweet, floral or spicy.
I usually have a summer wax and a winter wax. The summer wax is harder, it holds its form better during the warm summer months and the winter wax is softer so it goes on more easily in the winter.
I also have a winter decongestant mustache wax. In addition to the spruce and pine essential oils that come with the saps, (which are natural decongestants), I add essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and Rosemary. The wax warming under my nose releases these therapeutic essential oils directly into my in-drawn breath and acts as an “inhaler” to help keep my breathing passages open when I’m feeling stuffed up.

One could probably add a mix of essential oils in the wax to act as a barrier to airborne bacteria and viruses when in crowded public places. Most essential oils have well researched anti bacterial and anti viral properties, even in very small doses.
Some potent anti-virals and anti-bacterials are essential oils of Oregano, Eucalyptus, Thyme and Tea Tree ( yuck! ).

Another type of mustache wax is the form of a liquid or creme. This type is applied from a tube with the fingers or distributed with a small comb. once applied, the liquid in it evaporates and the waxes set and hold everything in place. It is more of a “one shot” deal and often needs to be reapplied wet to touch it up. Whereas a solid wax can be adjusted for an extended period of time. This type of mustache wax differs in that it incorporates an emulsifying wax, alcohol and distilled water in its basic recipe. Quite often it includes waxes that are harder and more brittle than Beeswax such as Carnauba wax. I can go over a recipe for a liquid mustache wax or cream mustache wax in a future blog if anyone is interested in making one.

To find a recipe and instructions for making your own “solid” Mustache Wax , please see this blog’s recipe page.

Posted on 2 Comments

Waxing Warmly over Mustaches

The mustache, the manly mustache. That flourish that only a man can embellish. That embellishment that only a man can flourish. Suave or swashbuckling. Terse or trim. debonair, devilish, dictatorial or delightful. There really are too many types,the list is infinite. Each of us is given a completely different set of variables. Each of us can and likely should create our own unique style. Every face,every feature, every skin type and every genetic background creates different limitations and different possibilities. Each of us with our unique vision and creativity. A place for true self-expression. Color, texture and thickness of hair, Curly or straight, the size of the area between nose and lip, width and height of face, which areas are fur-bearing, which are spotty or naked. These are only some of the unique variables given man.

Even the lightest dab of down floating under an inexperienced nose, if only cut, trimmed and groomed minimally displays creative self-expression. It says to the world unequivocally, I am a mustache, bearing a man unique in who i am, we like who we areand celebrate our masculine nature.

Besides the obvious attentions of shaving cutting snipping brushing or combing a mustache, There is the time-honored tradition of waxing one’s mustache.
Having just finished my latest batch of said Mustache Wax, I do wax warmly on the subject and would be very happy to share insights and experience.

There are a few commercial mustache waxes available on the market. Not many and they don’t suit all types of mustache. One alternative is to make ones own mustache wax tailored to our own needs. Another is to have someone custom make a mustache wax for us. If you know someone who can do this for you are very lucky.
If, like me, you would like to make your own it is not too hard to make at home.

The basic ingredients in making a good mustache wax are a good base wax like beeswax, Sap,(fir Pine or spruce sap) and odoriferous oils,especially essential oils
Beeswax I find works best for me. It is natural, barely processed, smells great and it has good body and texture. Paraffin wax always smells like petroleum but can be worked with.
The wax will give body to your mustache wax.
Saps will help train your mustache to hold to a new form and shape. Almost like a “perm” effect. Saps also add a certain stickiness that helps keep everything together and of course a lovely, lovely fragrance.
While we now have stickiness and body I find that adding a little cocoa butter or Shea butter gives smoothness to the mix. Lubrication. This means it goes on much smoother and you aren’t as apt to yank out hairs every time you apply wax. No sense torturing oneself unnecessarily. Cocoa butter also smells heavenly and adds a balsamic note to the overall fragrance.
The last touch is fragrance. Pure essential oils are the best.
Some classic masculine essential oils are Sandalwood, Vetiver, Spikenard, patchouli, Cyprus, various Cedars and Frankincense.
Some spicy masculine notes are, Cardamom, Ginger, Black Pepper, Mace and Nutmeg
Given the base scents of beeswax, coniferous Saps and Cocoa Butter one has a good base for building a unique personal masculine fragrance. It is an accord that is woody and warm and lends itself to many variations and expressions of masculinity, soft or edgy, sweet, floral or spicy.
I usually have a summer wax and a winter wax. The summer wax is harder, it holds its form better during the warm summer months and the winter wax is softer so it goes on more easily in the winter.
I also have a winter decongestant mustache wax. In addition to the spruce and pine essential oils that come with the saps, (which are natural decongestants), I add essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and Rosemary. The wax warming under my nose releases these therapeutic essential oils directly into my in-drawn breath and acts as an “inhaler” to help keep my breathing passages open when I’m feeling stuffed up.

One could probably add a mix of essential oils in the wax to act as a barrier to airborne bacteria and viruses when in crowded public places. Most essential oils have well researched anti bacterial and anti viral properties, even in very small doses.
Some potent anti-virals and anti-bacterials are essential oils of Oregano, Eucalyptus, Thyme and Tea Tree ( yuck! ).

Another type of mustache wax is the form of a liquid or creme. This type is applied from a tube with the fingers or distributed with a small comb. once applied, the liquid in it evaporates and the waxes set and hold everything in place. It is more of a “one shot” deal and often needs to be reapplied wet to touch it up. Whereas a solid wax can be adjusted for an extended period of time. This type of mustache wax differs in that it incorporates an emulsifying wax, alcohol and distilled water in its basic recipe. Quite often it includes waxes that are harder and more brittle than Beeswax such as Carnauba wax. I can go over a recipe for a liquid mustache wax or cream mustache wax in a future blog if anyone is interested in making one.

To find a recipe and instructions for making your own “solid” Mustache Wax , please see this blog’s recipe page.